1. How did you come to know Iceland? Was it a place you saw before you visited?
I was eleven years old the first time I set foot in Iceland. My grandmother and I were on our way to Florida
to visit family friends. The flight from Luxembourg, where I lived then, via Iceland to the US, was the easiest
and cheapest trans-Atlantic option. I remember seeing the barren landscape surrounding Keflavik airport for
the first time. It definitely left a lasting impression.
Going to school in Luxembourg, I also had several Icelandic classmates and friends. There was a
community of Icelanders who lived there for various reasons, the air-cargo industry, and later banking.
Therefore, already at a young age, I was exposed to Icelandic language, stories, and culture.
2. How has your time there changed your relationship or view of the landscape and country?
During my first years, the landscape felt entirely new and different from what I was accustomed to. In
contrast to Luxembourg and its surrounding regions in Germany, France, and Belgium, Iceland is much less
dense. I found the distance to the horizon most striking. The sky seems a lot bigger. My view in
Luxembourg was defined by rolling hills and forests, so you can never really see that far.
After spending a decade in Iceland, I got used to the landscape. You have these peculiar rock and lava
formations, black sand beaches, and steam coming out everywhere, yet I had lived there long enough to
consider these things mundane. The work I produce there is in parts an attempt to reengage with this
3. Many people are drawn to Iceland because it’s so beautiful - and because it photographs so well -
how did/do you consider that in making work?
Iceland’s inherent beauty presented one of my biggest challenges when working on my first book, “History
of the Visit”. During my final year at the University of Hartford’s Photography MFA program, I struggled to
present a cohesive body of work. My early Iceland photographs were in color and didn’t really move past
facile notions of beauty or the sublime. I remember hearing the expression “beautiful calendar pictures”
during one of my critiques. Perhaps that gives you an idea of what these pictures were like.
Eventually, I set out on daily drives to Reykjavik’s surrounding areas. I limited myself to black and white film.
Since it was the middle of winter, I photographed in twilight and found myself mostly alone in the
landscape. This combination led to a meditative, almost delirious state—which I think found its way into the
photographs. There are passages in Werner Herzog’s diary “Of Walking in Ice” which describe this condition
precisely. I was also fascinated by the visual language in Tarkovsky’s “Stalker” and its description of the
Zone. In a sense, I set out to find my own zone. Instead of the outskirts of Moscow, I found it in the
surrounding areas of Reykjavik. Finally, these images had very little to do with a real geographic place—they
are an appropriation.
4. Is it easier to make myths of areas that are wild than areas that are clearly man made?
I’ve been gradually moving away from wild areas in the last few years. My current work revolves around a
specific neighborhood in Santiago, Chile—a very different experience compared to Iceland. The city is
much more cluttered, full of cultural, social, and historical complexity. This complexity is challenging to
fictionalize, which sustains my interest in going back there to do work.
5. Do you like to return to certain places over and over, or do you prefer a faster more restless
I like to visit places over and over, so I understand them better. I traveled to Chile for the first time in 2016,
only with fragmentary notions of its history gleaned from documentaries and history books. After repeated
visits, I made friends there and also became interested in Chilean fiction writing. The latter has become a
significant influence in my work, hopefully grounding and informing it.
Repeated visits to sites I’ve photographed in Iceland are obviously much more accessible. I still photograph
there, but it’s moving along on a different tangent than my work in Chile. Perhaps one day, these tangents
6. Why does the land draw things out of our psyche?
I believe it’s a primary brain function to compensate for something that is lacking. If you strip away all the
distractions that we have become accustomed to, from Instagram to Netflix, your mind starts to wander.
I once visited a defunct whale processing plant out in the middle of nowhere in Iceland. The worker’s
quarters walls were covered in handmade drawings—simple renderings of ships, sunsets, and nudes. There
also was no TV set in that room.
7. Do we see what’s there, or only what we imagine is there?
We imagine what we see is there